Thursday, October 1, 2009

Waterlox Review

We talk to clients all over the country with various floor finishing project requirements and expectations. We are many times asked "What do you think is the Best Hardwood Floor Finish?" This question can only be answered after careful consideration of several factors. We have to consider cost, appearance, ease of maintenance, and long term durability.


What look do you want?
Do you you want a natural, non-“plastic” look?
Do you desire a hand rubbed look?
Do you like low sheen? High sheen?
What type of wood are you finishing?
Are you finishing, or is a contractor doing the work?


What is the exposure?
Do you have Dogs? We do.

The following Waterlox review is based on our experience with extremely satisfied clients across the country, as well as our years of using and testing Waterlox products.

Ease of Application and Maintenance

All floor finish choices offer trade-offs, and there no perfect finish. Many of the most durable finishes are difficult to apply , and require a much involved process for maintenance, including sanding, and inconvenience . Most of the commonly used polyurethane floor finishes used lead to rapid deterioration and visible scratching, requiring frequent and inconvenient recoating. Prefinished floors are difficult to recoat as well. Both oil and water-based polyurethanes must be sanded before every recoat.

Our Favorite Finish

A great product we have used and tested for years is a blend of Tung Oil and Resin. Tung oil has been used as a wood sealer for centuries in China precisely because wood absorbs it so readily and because it does eventually “cure,” meaning that it hardens when exposed to oxygen. Essentially, tung oil works by seeping into the wood and hardening, which, on a floor, allows the wood grain itself to take the wear of foot traffic.

Waterlox Sealer/Finish is 80% Tung Oil , and gives a natural low film look to the wood. It enhances natural features of the wood, without covering the texture of the wood in a “plastic looking” finish. The Tung oil is a proven water-proofer, and the resin adds durability exceeding many common finishes. It is much easier to apply with good results than most common floor finishes.

Maintenance is also easy with Waterlox. You just sweep the floor, clean, and reapply a rejuvenating coat as desired every few years. No sanding is ever required, which means no machines, no dust, no inconvenience, and no expense in preparation. Most common finishes are difficult to spot repair, and usually require full sanding and refinishing. With Waterlox, small scratches can be spot repaired, with excellent results. Some clients even buff the finish after a year or two, with excellent results, and extended maintenance.

Another benefit when rejuvenating in a few years is that we are not forced to remove large cabinets and furniture, simply recoating the traffic areas. This can all be easily blended later if the furniture is moved or removed.

Textured and Reclaimed Lumber.

Many clients are choosing textured woods including reclaimed, hand-scraped, and distressed. You simply cannot choose a finish that requires sanding on this type of floor. Polyurethanes, Water-based Finishes, and Moisture Cure Urethanes all require sanding, and represent a poor choice for this type of project. To maintain the character of reclaimed lumber, hand scraped, or distressed wood, we strongly encourage our clients to consider Waterlox.

Exotic Hardwood

Exotic hardwood flooring like Mahogany, Cumaru, Ipe, and Tiger Wood has always been a challenge. These woods are extremely dense and hard, and they are full of natural oils that many times will make adhesion of most finishes difficult. Waterlox is our product of choice for exotic hardwood. It does bring out the natural beauty of the wood, darkening and enhancing. Waterlox addresses and overcomes almost every disadvantage and performance shortcomings of traditional polyurethanes, new acrylics, and other products (drying issues, film-building, lap-marks, poor adhesion, peeling, short-life, poor appearance).

Waterlox gives superior direct adhesion to exotic hardwood, and is used as a seal coat under many other types of finishes. There is little film building with Waterlox, even with repeat applications. Nothing to peel, ever. Waterlox is very translucent and natural looking on exotic hardwood flooring.

Other Finishes

The performance, elegant appearance, lasting beauty, and the ease of use will usually make Waterlox the product of choice for hardwood floors, cabinets, walls, logs, timbers, furniture and a variety of wood components.

Occasionally, a client may consider some of the following factors that, at first, appear to outweigh the benefits of Waterlox :

-Some clients seek a low odor finish and fast dry finish. Waterlox is solvent-based, and requires 24 hours between coats. Allow a little time for proper floor finishing in your project schedule.

-Some clients seek a $20 per gallon finish. Waterlox is expensive due to the premium ingredients and processing method. Floor finish materials cost is a minuscule percentage of the total cost of a hardwood floor finishing project.

-Some clients allow their contractor to choose their finish for them. Seeking low bids forces contractors to cut cost by using an inexpensive finish. Choose and specify the finish of your choice, and exclude finish cost from the bid process.

Our clients choose Waterlox.

Waterlox Links

Waterlox Floor Finishing Guide
Floor Finishing Guide Video
Waterlox for Floors
Waterlox Advantage
Frequently Given Answers
Waterlox for Log Homes
Waterlox on Ipe, Mahogany, and other Hardwoods

Fun Links about Wood at

Treatment of wood has been practiced for almost as long as the use of wood . Some accounts reach back to the beginning of recorded history. For example the Bible in Genesis, 6:13-14 “And God said unto Noah… make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.” There are also records of wood preservation reaching back to ancient Greece during Alexander the Great’s rule, where bridge wood was soaked in olive oil. The Romans also protected their wood by brushing their ship hulls with tar. During the Industrial Revolution wood preservation became a corner stone of the wood processing industry. Inventors and scientists such as Bethell, Boucherie, Burnett and Kyan made historic developments in wood preservation, with the preservative solutions and processes.

The ancient Chinese used Tung Oil to waterproof their ships, and that same tung oil is now blended for even greater performance in Waterlox Tung Oil Finish.

Waterlox Drying Time Between Coats

I bought waterlox thru you & have a question. I am using it on yellow pine inside a barn. I have already done 3 coats in some areas in dry weather - waited 24 hours between coats - all is fine. Now, we are having a stretch of very wet weather - I did a section of 1st coat yesterday - my question is - should I wait more than 24 hours? If it is not tacky at 24 hours is it "dry" (don't know how anything could dry in this weather)? Should I wait for dry weather (another week of rain here). There is very good air flow & not too hot - good breeze thru barn. Sue


These issues are the same whether your project is a barn, or an interior wood floor: Waterlox cures with oxygen, so the more oxygen available, the better the cure. Exchange and move air, but do not blow air directly on the wet coating.

Fort this project, the breeze is key...if the breeze is full of moisture, there is less free oxygen to cure the Waterlox. If you are getting a consistent supply of fresh dry air, that is good. You are correct to let it cure a little longer in marginal conditions..maybe 36-48 hrs between coats. If it is pouring rain outside it will not cure a lot in the barn. Count 24 cumulative hours of good drying conditions. Also be sure to circulate air in corners and in the high work if you can.

You can generally drag or slide your fingers across the surface..if the finish is very "grippy" (not slick), then give it a bit more time.


Storing and preserving Waterlox

Hey guys. Project is going well. Have gone thru about half of our order - will need more I am sure, eventually. I have a question about the product. I will be gone & unable to use the waterlox for about 10-12 days. Is that long enuf to be concerned about storage of the product? Pictures are in the works! Sue


The worst that would happen is that a little of the material on top could start to skin. As long as you strain the material before use, all the liquid is good.

The amount of oxygen in the container will affect the speed at which you might start to see a little skinning. A quart of material in a gallon can, for example, would go pretty quick, as opposed to 3 quarts of liquid in a gallon can. Skinning can sometimes occur in as little as 3-5 days, and sometimes it can go a few months. I generally preserve if more than a couple of days. I recommend you take storage measures to be safe.

Also, never shake Waterlox products that are packaged in the tall square can. They are in the square can for a reason. You can't get a mixer in the can because Waterlox doesn't want you to mix the product. If you shake or mix the Waterlox, it will be much more prone to skinning in the can, and it can cause finish problems from micro-bubbles. Just open the can and pour. No need to mix or shake. Be sure to recap tightly between pours.

The only products that need mixing are the Waterlox Interior Satin, or the new Marine Satin. If you are going to shake Marine Satin, shake it a day or two before using, then gently stir before each pour during your project. The Interior Satin Waterlox mixes easily with gentle stiring. Just be sure to drag your mixing stick across the entire bottom and all corners, stirring across, around, and then upward in a rolling motion. Again, gently stir before each pour of Satin during your project.

For storage of Waterlox products, you can pour any partial cans into smaller container(s), filled to the top, and covered quickly. That will store for a long time (months or years). I use small jars from the kitchen (pickle jars, mushroom jars). Label the jars for safety. Sometimes little small jars can be used in the future for small projects or touchups. Also, as you do the project, keeps lids on cans between pours, and pour any leftover material in pans or paint pails into a separate container to be strained. Do not pour back into can.

If you think you will use Waterlox on a regular basis, you can utilize Bloxygen Finish preserver. ( Just a quick spray in the partial can, and Waterlox is preserved, and ready for future projects.

We look forward to the pictures. All the best.